SPHS 9 20 17 Genetics

KGI’s Human Genetics Degree Programs to Enroll First Cohorts in Fall 2018

In response to the growing demand for professionals trained in genetics, counseling, and analytics, the Keck Graduate Institute (KGI) School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences is adding a pair of degree programs: Master of Science in Human Genetics and Genetic Counseling (MSGC), and Master of Science in Human Genetics and Genomic Data Analytics (MSGDA).

Thanks to a $1.5 million gift from Amgen, one of the world’s leading biotechnology companies, KGI will enroll its first cohort for those two programs in the Fall of 2018.

“There is a real demand for individuals who understand genetics,” said KGI School of Pharmacy Founding Dean and Professor Kathy Webster. “We are thrilled to offer two separate tracks in which students can pursue their passions.”

The two-year MSGC program is dedicated to benefiting society through the education, training, and development of innovative, collaborative, culturally-competent, articulate, and caring genetic counselors who will serve the needs of individual patients, the healthcare system, and the bioscience industry.

The program will prepare graduates to be leaders among healthcare professionals dedicated to the delivery of advanced personally-optimized patient care and the translation of applied and clinical science breakthroughs to enhance the quality of life.

“The field of genetics has changed dramatically over time,” said Ashley Mills, MSGC program director. “Therefore, the student experience at KGI will involve a strong foundation in principal genetic counseling skills coupled with progressive and rigorous didactic learning, fieldwork experience, and research development to prepare graduates to be entrepreneurial, compassionate, forward-thinking professionals.”

The two-year MSGDA program capitalizes on KGI’s core curriculum in human genetics and builds upon this to expand a student’s knowledge in the areas of genomics and data analytics. The first year of courses is shared with MSGC and School of Applied Life Sciences students, while in the second year MSGDA students will undertake innovative courses in DNA sequencing technologies, pharmacogenomics, genetic variant interpretation, and genomic data visualization, as well as complete an industry-sponsored capstone project or research thesis.

Upon completion of the program, students will be able to combine their foundation in genetics with a practical knowledge of analytics to be able to translate information and bridge gaps between research scientists and practitioners.

“As a result of the Human Genome project and the dramatic increase in the rate and amount of sequencing, professionals are needed who can investigate the clinical significance of gene variants,” said Dr. Samit Shah, associate dean of academic affairs, Sidney J. Weinberg professor in the KGI School of Pharmacy. “This new program will provide professionals with all the skills needed to be leaders in clinical genomics.”

Both the MSGC and MSGDA programs are currently accepting applications for the anticipated Fall 2018 start date. Interested students should apply by Feb. 1, 2018. For more information about both programs, visit kgi.edu/pharmacy.

The MSGC program has submitted a Letter of Intent to apply for accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Genetic Counseling, Inc. Both the MSGC and MSGDA programs will be applying for accreditation with the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.